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ODHE, Higher Education Partners Launch Statewide Initiative to Prevent, Respond to Sexual Violence

October 21, 2015 - 11:18 PM

COLUMBUS - A single act of sexual violence on Ohio’s college campuses is one too many. As a result, the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) today launched a statewide initiative designed to help all of Ohio’s colleges and universities – public and private, two-year and four-year – prevent and better respond to incidents of sexual violence.

The Changing Campus Culture report, a series of recommendations and action steps, was unveiled at a kickoff event at the Ohio Statehouse. Chancellor John Carey was joined at the event by three of the ODHE’s partners on the initiative – University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College President Michelle Johnston; Otterbein University President Kathy Krendl; and Ohio State Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston, representing Ohio State President Michael Drake.

“Ohio must strengthen our state’s ability to better respond to and ultimately prevent sexual assault on our college campuses. This is an issue that affects all of our campuses and takes a collaborative effort to successfully address it,” Carey said. “Through the state budget, ODHE was charged with developing model best practices to respond to and prevent campus sexual assault and thanks to the leadership of Governor John R. Kasich and the state legislature; $2 million was allocated to support this work.”

The Changing Campus Culture report calls for campuses to adopt five recommendations aimed at preventing and responding to sexual violence: 1) Use data to guide action – specifically, an annual campus climate survey; 2) Empower staff, faculty, campus law enforcement and students to prevent and respond to sexual violence through evidence-based training; 3) Communicate a culture of shared respect and responsibility; 4) Develop a comprehensive response protocol; and 5) Adopt a survivor-centered response.

Changing Campus Culture was designed to strengthen the work already underway on many campuses to address sexual violence. To gain a better understanding of the diverse needs of Ohio’s colleges and universities, the recommendations included input from presidents, campus and community experts and advocacy groups. Additionally, a survey was distributed to all campuses and national trends and best practices were researched.

“Our objective for the Changing Campus Culture initiative is that 100 percent of Ohio’s campuses adopt 100 percent of the recommendations by the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year,” Carey said. “I am pleased that we have engaged all of Ohio’s college and university presidents and received strong support as we work collectively to change campus culture.”

“By working together, we have the opportunity to make headway on the challenging issue of campus sexual violence,” President Johnston said. “The Changing Campus Culture report strengthens our focus on the safety and well-being of our students.”

The $2 million appropriated in the budget will be used to implement the support strategies, including data analysis of campus climate survey data, jointly purchase training for campuses, a consultant to help campuses with comprehensive response protocols, and training on survivor-centered strategies. In addition, institutions can apply for individual grants to implement the five recommendations within the Changing Campus Culture report.

There also are plans for regional meetings as campuses work to implement the Changing Campus Culture recommendations. Campuses will be supported by the Ohio Department of Higher Education through a dedicated staff member. Additional information about the Changing Campus Culture initiative, including a copy of the report, is available on the Ohio Department of Higher Education website at www.ohiohighered.org/ccc.

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